“Scam is not a native of any nation, color or race. It is a human problem and can be experienced anywhere.”
There seems to be a well-orchestrated grand scam by some unscrupulous elements to defraud unsuspecting immigrants of their hard-earned money. The most plausible reasons could be because of the tidy sum that immigrants are known to bring in for settlement as required by the Canadian government and also because they have absolute trust in their new environment as being scam-proof. Afterall, it’s Canada where everyone follows the law, and no one is above the law. Or so they think.
Truth is, no society is scam-proof. People are wired the same way no matter where they are. The major thing that should be noted is that the Canadian environment discourages illicit business through various government apparatus and systems. There are tools and resources available that can help an individual avoid being defrauded. However, because most newcomers are gullible, unaware of their new environment and how to follow due diligence using the available tools and resources, they become easy targets of scammers.
The Immigrant Life brings you two real life stories and how you, the new immigrant, can take lessons from them.
Olusegun Akinfemi, an IT specialist in the telecom space, is a Nigerian born Canadian who moved to Canada with a PR in 2005 to settle his family here before going back to Nigeria to execute a big project he had secured. He made a tidy sum from the project and called a trusted friend here in Canada to know if there were any investment options into which he could inject the money he had made. He had heard, of course, that it could take some time before landing his first professional role and he needed something – tangible or intangible to give him passive income before then. His trusted friend (who remains a trusted friend to date) informed him about an investment opportunity he had heard about which he himself couldn’t pursue because of lack of funds. He had only recently lost his job and was cash strapped.
Olusegun did some follow-up on the information, got convinced enough and invested big enough sum which made him a little uncomfortable, initially. But he felt better when the returns started coming in which were dropped in his bank account at the expected time without fail, for two years. He had recouped about half of his investment before things went awry.
Oyakhire Airende, also from Nigeria, came to Canada in 2013 as a student. He is a permanent resident working in the oil and gas industry and also working as a private chef on the side. Oyakhire believes strongly in multiple streams of income so he, at some point, began to actively look for an investment that could give him passive income. He found one! He also did some digging and was impressed about what he found. He invited two of his friends and they pooled together a huge sum (part of which was from Oyakhire’s line of credit). They signed the contract papers and had to wait for 60 days before the first return was paid. They were in business and nothing could go wrong, so they thought. And nothing went wrong for the first 6-8 months. Until it did.
What scammers sell? The Business Model
Put in X amount of money which will be invested in some real projects and you get Y amount return at the end of the month (or other duration). The duration of investment is usually between 3-5 years.
The investment opportunity is usually marketed through relationships rather than through conventional means such as television, radio, etc. You get to hear first-hand stories of how someone or the other made a hefty amount since investing and how it was helping people pay their bills and so on. The statistics in their favor are usually high. They had evidence, usually people from around you who could testify; the organization was a registered one who had access to your bank account into which they electronically deposited your returns every month; they had a call center with valid numbers; they had a valid website. With all these, the element of credibility was high. This made both men plunge in with their hard-earned money until they realized that they just swelled the statistics of those who got swindled in Canada. By then it was too late.
1. These were both vulnerable immigrants who had money and were looking to invest in a supposedly safe environment. Immigrants are usually passionate about saving and investing and making it big once they arrive in Canada.
2. The information about the investment opportunity came from trusted friends. It could also be from trusted family members or some other persons in one’s circle of trust.
3. They had no inkling that anyone could outrightly lose everything in a place like Canada and that the police or the authorities could do little or nothing to track the culprits.
The two men lost out badly at the end of the day. The unscrupulous people swindled all the money from many like the two mentioned above. Just before the scammers pulled the plug, they proposed expansion plans beyond Canada and explained why they had to drive more investment. People were encouraged with smooth words to put in more money expecting bigger returns. They fell for it and ploughed in more. Some even brought in people from outside Canada to be a part of the lucrative investment.
This is just one of the many models used by scammers. They are everywhere. That is not to say that there are no genuine investment options in Canada. There are verifiable ones if only you will apply due diligence and not rely on the stories of patrons or hearsay.
You can access the resources available at the Government of Canada website which outlines how you can protect yourself from immigration fraud.
You can get more insights on this topic when you listen to the Immigrant Life podcast, Episode 55. Click here to listen.